My daughter was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in 2012, just before her third birthday. It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that until a paediatrician first mentioned the word ‘autism’ around a year before her diagnosis, I knew nothing about the condition. So I googled, and bought loads of books, and loads of sensory toys and other things I thought would help my child.
I did what many parents in my shoes do. Faced with the unknown, I got scared. And then I threw money at it. It didn’t work! The only thing I learned in all that is that every autistic child is different and buying something just because it’s labelled as ‘sensory’ or ‘for autism’ doesn’t mean it will help anything.
In the beginning…
When my daughter was diagnosed, I couldn’t find the support I needed. I had a hunch that there was actually quite a lot going on in Bristol, but that it wasn’t well advertised. Everyone I met seemed to have knowledge of something helpful – a special playground for disabled children, speech and language drop in sessions, how to get a disability pushchair, etc. I wanted a way to bring all of these threads together to share with everyone in the same scared shoes I was in. Thus, Bristol Autism Support (BAS) was born, as a way to share information and reduce isolation.
It wasn’t until I set up BAS that I really began to find things that helped me and my daughter. There are actually quite a few parent / carer support groups in and around Bristol, several disability play centres and playgrounds, specialist dentists, etc.. And BAS members have ingenious ideas for how to sort everything from eating issues to getting your kid dressed in the morning.
How I know what I know…
Over the past seven years I have helped to support around 2,000 parents and carers of autistic children, through support groups, events and online. I have read in the region of 200,000 posts and comments in our Facebook group. I have learned what support is out there, what funding is available, where to get help for anything from incontinence issues to children’s mental health. I know how to get funding for an iPad and how to use picture communication. I have learned about schools and play opportunities and special autism friendly sessions and more.
I have been able to better support my child because of all the things I have learned. And now I have written a 6-week course to share everything I know, so that I can bring all of this knowledge together in one place for parents who are new to autism.
The What Do I Do Now? course encompasses everything you need to know right now.
Each week we will cover, in depth, a topic that will help you to help your child, your family and yourself. The information is up-to-the-minute current and specific to where you live. You don’t need a diagnosis to attend this course. The course schedule looks like this:
Week 1: Autism 101 – a general overview of autism and strategies to help your child right now
Week 2: Benefits, funding and support
Week 3: How to talk about autism (with friends, education and health professionals, family and your child)
Week 4: Education issues and support
Week 5: Challenging behaviour
Week 6: Finding the ‘new normal’ – how to adapt your lifestyle to accommodate your child’s autism
Why this course is worth paying for
This course costs £60. That’s just £10 a week. I have to charge for the course because I have to pay for the room hire, insurance, materials, etc.
It costs £60 (and just £20 for one additional person) but I can, hand on heart, promise you that it will be worth every penny. This course will save you time; you would be hard pressed to find all of the information presented in this course yourself. This course will also save you money; having specific information will save you buying books, toys, clothing, etc. that won’t work for your child’s needs.
What people have said about this course
“I can’t express just how absolutely, essentially important and transformational this course has been for my life.”
“I have taken so much from this course! It was life-changing for me as a mum and I can’t recommend it enough.”
“Loads of useful info – I do feel I understand better now.”
“Kate’s style is extremely helpful – everyone’s experience is welcome. I felt really looked after.”
“Finally a course that really understands what it’s like to be a parent of a child with autism!”
How to book
Below are the currently scheduled courses for 2019:
When: Every Monday from 11am – 1pm for six weeks, starting on 9th September
Where: Lawrence Weston Community Farm, Saltmarsh Drive, Lawrence Weston BS11 0NJ
Click here to book this course
When: Every Wednesday from 10am – 12pm for six weeks, starting on 6th November
Where: Knowle West Media Centre, Leinster Avenue, Knowle BS4 1NL
Click here to book this course